Educators consulted by Sheet praised the inclusion of two weekly recovery classes in the curriculum of São Paulo schools, as well as the expansion of Portuguese and mathematics classes, but criticized the reduction in arts.
A report published this Friday (17) by Folha revealed the curricular changes defined by the Tarcísio de Freitas (Republican) administration for the curricula of schools in the São Paulo network, from elementary school 2 (6th to 9th) and high school.
In high school, in addition to the expansion of Portuguese and mathematics and the reduction of arts, there was also the extinction of elective subjects (optional, which could be created by choices) and the drastic reduction in the number of itineraries (part of the curriculum that each student chooses to delve deeper). Of the 11 current options, there will be only two (Languages/Human and Exact Sciences/Natural Sciences).
“The changes, in general, are positive and are in line with the federal government’s bill that changes the new medium, as well as with best international practices”, says Brazilian researcher Guilherme Lichand, professor of education at Stanford University ( USA), PhD in economic and government policy from Harvard, who studies educational policies in different countries.
“Having few itineraries is the defining characteristic of secondary education in countries with low dropout rates and good performance on Pisa [principal avaliação internacional de alunos]”, he states. “But, in addition, these countries have between 40% and 50% of students in technical education. São Paulo needs to expand vocational education.”
Currently, according to the education department, only 100,000 students, of the approximately 1.5 million enrolled in secondary education, are on professional courses.
Lichand highlighted the inclusion of mathematics and Portuguese recovery in the 6th to 9th grade curriculum. “Since face-to-face classes returned, after the pandemic, the learning deficit has been ignored in Brazil,” she said. “Now the MEC is mobilizing to launch recovery initiatives, and it’s great that a large network like the one in São Paulo is moving in this direction.”
He only considered that it is necessary to be careful with the idea of dividing classes into three proficiency levels, so that each student follows a different program on the computer. “On the one hand, policies like this show some relevant successes. But it is ideal for there to be a ‘reintegration’ several times a year, that is, for students to be tested so that they can change levels as they advance,” he explained.
“This change in level is important to avoid the risk of stigma for students who are at the lowest level. This could end up dismantling this policy.”
Specialist in mathematics teacher training and member of the São Paulo State Education Council, Katia Smole also celebrated the inclusion of recovery in the curriculum. “This is a huge gain”, said the educator, who was previously secretary of Basic Education at the MEC and is director of the Reúna Institute.
“The assessments show the size of the deficit in Portuguese and mathematics. It is a problem to be solved, and São Paulo sets an example by proposing a solution.”
Regarding the reduction of itineraries in the new high school curriculum, Smole said that “there were adjustments that needed to be made.” But he pondered: “Just two itineraries seems little. I missed, for example, one that integrated Exact Sciences with Human Sciences”. She also stated that she felt there was a lack of “a common thread” in the curriculum, which seems more like “a juxtaposition of subjects, not necessarily integrated.”
The educator also stated that the Department of Education needs to make it clear what it will do with students who go to the 3rd year in 2024 and who, therefore, studied two years with the curriculum that will be abolished. “None of those itineraries they made were preserved, and the secretariat needs to explain how it will make this adaptation.”
Smole was especially critical of the reduction in art classes. “We have been following international studies regarding childhood and adolescence that show the importance of arts classes, as well as physical education classes, in the student’s integral development,” she said. “Especially in the times we live in, it is necessary to balance a more rational side of the curriculum, which puts pressure on the student, with content linked to well-being, creativity, empathy, affection.”
In projects that the educator develops for schools, “the work is to increase the space for arts, not reduce it”. “We can’t look at education just with numbers.”
Writer of children’s literature and author of more than 40 books, including “Lá Vem História” (Companhia das Letrinhas) and “A Princesa que Não Queria Aprendir a Ler” (FTD), Heloisa Prieto stated that “reducing the space for practice and learning the arts is equivalent to a form of imprisonment and exclusion of students from the public school system”. “It is a strategy to further consolidate social differences, not to mention the conscious evasion of recording and exercising creative expressions,” she stated. “Under the alleged cloak of common sense, measures of extreme violence are inserted.”